Modern literature and the problem of life

"Subtleties, allegories, humorous fancies, the wildest generalizations abound, but nothing simple and clear, nothing going straight to the point, that is, to the problem of life.

Besides these graceful frivolities, our literature is full of simple nastiness and brutality, of arguments that would lead men back in the most refined way to primal barbarism, to the principles not only of the pagan, but of the animal life, which we have left behind 5,000 years ago."

Leo Tolstoy


The Pond

"Created during World War II as a purely U.S. operation free of the perceived taint of European allies, the Pond existed for 13 years and was shrouded in secrecy for more than 50 years. It used sources that ranged from Nazi officials to Stalinists and, at one point, a French serial killer.

It operated under the cover of multinational corporations, including American Express, Chase National Bank and Philips, the Dutch-based electronic giant. One of its top agents was a female American journalist.

Created by U.S. military intelligence as a counterweight to the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA, it functioned as a semiautonomous agency for the State Department after World War II and ended its days as a contractor for the CIA with links to J. Edgar Hoover's FBI."



So, you want to be a writer?

"So, you’ve decided that a writer is what you want to be. You’ve got a manuscript or two finished and you’re pounding the internet looking for an agent or a publisher who might be kind enough to look at your work. You’ve got copies printed, envelopes ready and you’ve spent a fortune in postage to send out your baby. Then you wait for a reply. But this takes time and you still have to go to work, pay bills, and eat. So, what are your options?

Do you continue in your current job, hoping for that acceptance letter and hefty advance? Well, since the advance part is highly unlikely to happen, and acceptance letters have been known to take years to arrive, you’ll most likely have to work indefinitely, and that's whether you publish or not. Sadly, an author is not known to be a rich sort of career. But what if you could write and get paid?" READ ON and then See what you're REALLY up against.

On the superiority of secret executions

"France had the guillotine and public executions. Public executions enshroud even the most dangerous criminal in a halo of heroism. Public executions incite the people; they give the enemy moral strength. The convict doesn't really die -- public executions leave the body to the relatives, they leave the last words, last will, and the exact date of death. Secret executions, in the basement, without the show, without official conviction, have an overwhelming effect on the enemy. The vast, merciless, omniscient machine grabs its victims and grinds them like a meat grinder. After the execution, there is no exact date of death, no last words, not corpses, not even the grave. Emptiness. The enemy is destroyed absolutely." Vladimir Zazubrin, in The Chip.


Franz Kafka's unknown writings

"For more than 50 years, a vast treasure trove containing the bulk of the Czech author's writing has been hidden away in 10 safety deposit boxes, tantalising Kafka enthusiasts around the world. Their hopes of unearthing a major literary find have come closer to fruition after Israel's supreme court ended a two-year legal tussle over the ownership of Kafka's estate by ordering that the boxes finally be opened. [...]

The saga of publishing Kafka's works is a long one, dating back to the author's death from tuberculosis in 1924.

Shortly before he died, Kafka entrusted his portfolio to Max Brod, his biographer and mentor, asking him to destroy its contents.

Ignoring his friend's wishes, Brod published some of the novels, such as The Trial and The Castle that were to propel Kafka into the pantheon of modern literary genius.

But he retained the bulk of the papers, taking them to Tel Aviv after fleeing the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1938, and then leaving them to his secretary and, so rumour has it, lover, Ester Hoffe."